Financial Insecurity

Processes, scripts and scenarios to handle typical issues in the workplace.

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Sue has been working with you for a few months after being unemployed for two years. Initially she was very enthusiastic and engaged, but recently she has begun to show signs of tiredness at work. You notice she is no longer bringing her lunch and seems to be withdrawing from social events after work. She approaches you to ask for an advance on her pay.


As part of your duty of care, it is important to understand what is behind these changes at work, so you suggest that the two of you have a private meeting to discuss the reason behind the need for an advance on her pay.

  • It is critical that if you are concerned for your employee’s safety you talk to them as soon as possible.
  • Ensure that the conversation is done in private and not in full view of other employees.


Stigma is very strong when it comes to talking about money and many people find it difficult to admit that they are struggling with their finances. They may not be aware of how this is impacting on their mental health. Being non-judgmental and open is key.

  • Perhaps start by discussing the overall changes that having a job can mean, after being out of work.
  • Be careful not to interrupt, or finish Sue’s sentences, but let her talk as much as she needs.

Eventually, Sue explains that she is struggling, as she been having to clear up debts incurred during her period of unemployment. She also had to buy a new wardrobe and fix up her car to get to work. She is now not managing to juggle all her expenses and is missing out on meals.


It is important to understand that as an employer, it is not your responsibility to fix Sue’s financial issues. But equally, if she is less productive at work, the impact will be negative for your business, especially as we know that there is a strong link between financial insecurity and poor mental health.

  • Determine which of the issues are most urgent. Is it immediately food or rent? Is it fines?
  • You will need to check if Sue is willing to accept referrals to other organisations, including legal assistance, that can help her with her immediate issues and overall finances.
  • Also check if, in the referral, she is willing for you to share the circumstances she has disclosed to you.

4. ACT

Sue needs to understand that an advance on her pay will not be the right or optimal fix, and that she really needs to seek help to manage her overall finances.

  • Have a discussion with the referral agency/agencies immediately, to try and secure intervention on the most pressing issues, preferably with Sue alongside you.
  • Give Sue time off work to attend this first appointment.
  • If food is an immediate issue refer her to emergency relief. If unpaid fines or rent arrears are immediate issues refer her to community legal assistance.

Also, direct Sue to the online resources (available here) and assist her to seek an appointment with a financial counsellor. She seems very worried, so you break this down into one achievable task at a time, beginning with assisting her to attend the appointments


Check in with Sue within 24 hours to ensure she has the professional support she needs and weekly for the first month to ensure the supports are effective.

  • Document the conversation for future reference.

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